Alex may head north to Texas or Louisiana

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:36 PM GMT on June 27, 2010

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Tropical Depression Alex has held together fairly well during its passage over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and stands poised to re-intensify back into a tropical storm once it emerges from the coast tonight. Alex brought heavy rains to northern Honduras, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and Belize over the weekend. It was not a good beach day in Cozumel yesterday, as 9.25" of rain fell. Cancun received 2.05" over the weekend, and Belize City received 4.57". Satellite loops show that Alex's heavy thunderstorms are mostly gone near the center, though there are some impressive bands of precipitation well away from the center. There is an upper-level high pressure system a few hundred miles west of Alex, and the clockwise flow air around this high is bringing upper-level winds out of the northwest of about 5 knots over the storm, contributing to the 5 knots of wind shear observed in this afternoon's wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin's CIMSS group. Sea Surface Temperatures are very warm, 29 - 30°C, and dry air is currently not a problem for Alex.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Alex.

Forecast for Alex: which model should you trust?
While the track forecast for Alex today through Monday is fairly well-assured, the longer range forecast has become highly uncertain. An increasing number of our reliable models are now indicating Alex may take a more northerly track beginning on Tuesday, with possible landfall on the Texas coast near Galveston on Friday (according to the 8am run of the GFS model) or into western Louisiana on Wednesday (the 8am run of the Canadian model.) The key question remains how Alex will react to the trough of low pressure expected to swing down over the Eastern U.S. on Monday and Tuesday. Most of the models were predicting that the trough would not be strong enough to swing Alex to the north, and several of them continue to predict this. The 8am runs of the NOGAPS and ECMWF models, for example, take Alex into the Gulf coast of Mexico 150 miles south of Texas, on Wednesday. The GFDL and HWRF models split the difference, with the GFDL predicting a Thursday landfall in southern Texas near Brownsville, and the HWRF predicting a Thursday landfall near Corpus Christi. Morris Bender of the GFDL group has just provided me the track forecast from an improved experimental version of the GFDL that shows landfall between Corpus Christi and Galveston. So which model should you trust? Last year, the best performing models at the 3 - 4 day forecast range were the GFS and the Canadian, and these are the models that are currently calling for the more northerly track towards the upper Texas coast and Louisiana. Residents of those areas should review their hurricane preparedness plans and anticipate that Alex could make landfall as early as Wednesday in their vicinity. Residents of the Mexican coast south of Brownsville should make similar plans, as Alex could just as easily hit there.

Re-intensification of Alex is likely once the center of Alex moves offshore, though this will initially be slow due to the current disorganized state of the storm and the relatively low total ocean heat content in the 100-mile-wide stretch of water on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once Alex moves more than 100 miles from the Yucatan, total heat content of the ocean increases substantially, and Alex will have the opportunity to intensify significantly. A longer time spent over water will give Alex more of a chance to strengthen, and it is possible Alex could intensify into a major hurricane if landfall is delayed until Thursday or Friday. However, Alex's intensification may be limited the farther north it gets, as water vapor satellite images show plenty of dry air over Texas that might interfere with development. Wind shear might also be an issue for Alex if it pushes far enough north, and a slow-moving storm tends to pull up cold water from the depths, limiting intensification. In short, Alex has the potential to intensify into a major hurricane, but there are plenty of roadblocks that make this only a 10% probability in my estimation.


Figure 2. Skill of computer model forecasts for Atlantic named storms during 2009. OFCL=Official NHC forecast; GFS=Global Forecast System model; GFDL=Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory model; HWRF=Hurricane Weather Research Forecasting model; NOGAPS=Navy Operational Global Prediction System model; UKMET+United Kingdom Met Office model; ECMWF=European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting model; CMC=Canadian GEM model; TVCN=one of the consensus models that lends together all (or most) of the above models; BAMM=Beta and Advection Model (Medium Layer.) Image credit: National Hurricane Center 2009 verification report.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) a few hundred miles north of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands has been pretty much torn apart, and is no longer a threat to develop.

Next post
Wunderground's severe weather expert Dr. Rob Carver will likely be posting an update on Alex late tonight. My next update will be Monday by 10am EDT.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting neonlazer:
Well, my grandparents do live in Port Authur..not far from the coast at all. But i am a computer and tropical geek, anything this big gets me very excited. I am the kind that letz all my friends know if its coming this way..lol One is sad he might be up north when if it comes towards us..(hurricane party organizer guy..lol) Not saying i want it to come here..but yea..the excitement part of me wants it to come here..yea..i think yall get it.
Be on guard! Depending where you live when a hurricane hits, your "hurricane party" could turn into a "farewell party"!
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These images show a western track can somebody confirm?
Alex COC is the dark blue spot east of Ciudad de Carmen in the 1815 utc frame and in the 1940 utc frame the COC is right on the cove of Carmen.


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Quoting Grothar:
If it doesn't post, I'll try again.

That looks scary if I do say so myself.
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Water temps are 29 C or approx 84 F where Alex is coming off. TCHP not very high but temps still more than adequate to allow for fairly quick reorganization.

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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Experimental 12Z FIM Model, 120 hours





Link to the FIM please
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Ocean heat content is minimal off the west coast of the Yucatan. Restrengthening/organizing should be gradual until Alex gets farther away from land and more out into the gulf.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26557



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Experimental 12Z FIM Model, 120 hours



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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Still got about 30-45 minutes.

EDIT: There are no watches or warnings out, so we have to wait until 8 PM EST.


no 5pm EDT is the normal advisory time

4pm CDT too
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7396
Quoting MississippiWx:


You are correct, assuming that I'm right in the center location which looks pretty obvious to me on visible.


Yah kinda what I was seeing, it becomes more evident with each passing frame.
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Quoting Grothar:
If it doesn't post, I'll try again.



It posted very impressive
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7396
Quoting Grothar:
If it doesn't post, I'll try again.





it work
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Quoting Tazmanian:
its 4pm there late


4PM CST
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If it doesn't post, I'll try again.

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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:


Still got about 30-45 minutes.



no they dont its 4pm at the E cost
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Quoting MrstormX:


So If im hearing you correctly, that would be a NNW motion?


You are correct, assuming that I'm right in the center location which looks pretty obvious to me on visible.
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"This product is updated at approximately 2 AM, 8 AM, 2 PM, and 8 PM EDT from June 1 to November 30. Special outlooks may be issued as conditions warrant."
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Quoting StormW:


Looks like a secondary vortex like we saw with pre Alex, associated with a developing EPAC system. If you go to satellite loop imagery, you can see most of the energy is confined o the PAC.

RGB LOOP
I looked at it and I still see a decent spin in the Caribbean. You are the expert and I will take your word for it ATM but I still think it bears watching especially this time of the year.
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Well, my grandparents do live in Port Authur..not far from the coast at all. But i am a computer and tropical geek, anything this big gets me very excited. I am the kind that letz all my friends know if its coming this way..lol One is sad he might be up north when if it comes towards us..(hurricane party organizer guy..lol) Not saying i want it to come here..but yea..the excitement part of me wants it to come here..yea..i think yall get it.
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The Se flow into Uptown NOLA is bringing the Worst Crude smell yet over us.
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its 4pm there late
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Quoting bwt1982:


Why do they need to evacuate the platforms in the Gulf for Alex? Its headed to Mex/TX???


i don't know what to tell you. my brother worked for schlumberger a few years back and he told me they evacuate when a tropical storm enters the gulf.

for all i know i could be remembering it wrong. that's why i said:
"I THOUGHT"
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Part of the core is now back over the water.

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311. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15625
Quoting jasoniscoolman09:
THIS WILL BE INVEST95L SOON.
You may be right as the NHC has mentioned it in the latest TWD.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Alex's center looks to be around 19.2N 90.8W according to visible imagery. If that's the case, Alex has moved .5 degrees N while only moving .2 degrees west since the last advisory had Alex at 18.7N and 90.6W.


If your right that's actually a tad north of northwest...
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Quoting kmanislander:


Good afternoon.

A slowing or stall almost always precedes a change in direction and this just as Alex is about to head back over water. A motion to the NW or N from this point would maximise the amount of time available for strengthening away from land and create a stronger system more inclined to push Northerly.


Yup....I'm getting a bit more concerned for Texas. Although upper-level conditions may deteriorate close to landfall, this could have the potential to be a major storm threatening the coast if it makes landfall north of 25N.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26557
Quoting MississippiWx:
Alex's center looks to be around 19.2N 90.8W according to visible imagery. If that's the case, Alex has moved .5 degrees N while only moving .2 degrees west since the last advisory had Alex at 18.7N and 90.6W.


So If im hearing you correctly, that would be a NNW motion?
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Alex's center looks to be around 19.2N 90.8W according to visible imagery. If that's the case, Alex has moved .5 degrees N while only moving .2 degrees west since the last advisory had Alex at 18.7N and 90.6W.
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Quoting watchingnva:


when you guys make your own maps, you need to put somewhere its from you from your own opinion....don't need to have people and lurkers on here believing your track is a nhc track and panicking prematurely...


Afternoon Watch. another typical summer day in the old dominion.
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18z NAM is running now.
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The rainbow floater loop could be playing tricks with me too. I'll look at some others.
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Quoting Levi32:


It is not a direct impact, but the swells would likely push the oil mostly northeast.



ok and has far has BP gos
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Quoting StormW:


Aye!


And how!
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Quoting Tazmanian:



where would this storm take most of the oil?


It is not a direct impact, but the swells would likely push the oil mostly northeast.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26557
Quoting Hurricanes101:
Its pretty clear to me that Alex is moving between WNW and NW now, not sure what this barely north of due west is that some are seeing


I think the issue is that depending on what you're looking at, the data is in different map projections.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Alex will be a hurricane by 8pm tomorrow night, i personally don't think the landmass disrupted the circulation significantly, too large of a system and drawing moisture from every quadrant.


Yeah, it's weird because over the landmass its circulation actually became better defined. Although lately it looks like it has broadened again with the effects of land finally setting in.
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Quoting Levi32:
Alex's forward movement has slowed during the last 3 hours, indicating a northward turn in course is imminent, if not already occurring.


Good afternoon.

A slowing or stall almost always precedes a change in direction and this just as Alex is about to head back over water. A motion to the NW or N from this point would maximise the amount of time available for strengthening away from land and create a stronger system more inclined to push Northerly.
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Quoting Grothar:
Disregard the plot, hasn't updated yet, but you can clearly see the center is moving off the coast.



What's causing the north part of Alex to peel off and head east towards Florida? Is that part of the clockwise shear that's hitting Alex from the NW? It's crazy how that whole chunk just peels off and separates like that.
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Alex's center looks to be around 19.2N 90.8W according to visible imagery. If that's the case, Alex has moved .5 degrees N while only moving .2 degrees west since the last advisory had Alex at 18.7N and 90.6W.
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Has anyone considered that Alex could take a northern track after it makes landfall in Mexico, south of Texas. If the center of circulation is over land, traveling up the coast, but over land, can the outer bands still affect storm surge to the east side of the storm? I know in Galveston we would still get some nasty weather as far as high wind gust and lots of rain, but what I am wondering about is the storm surge.
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this blog is riping right a long
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Quoting Levi32:
Alex's forward movement has slowed during the last 3 hours, indicating a northward turn in course is imminent, if not already occurring.



where would this storm take most of the oil?
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Quoting Torgen:


I keep holding back watering my veggie garden in Brandon, but the rain keeps missing me. I think the mall has built up a microclimate that pushes the rain to the north and south :P


I was just in Brandon this morning.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
Its pretty clear to me that Alex is moving between WNW and NW now, not sure what this barely north of due west is that some are seeing


Go to this satellite loop

Click on trop pts and tell me the COC is not moving west of the forecast points. Maybe my eyes are broken but I doubt it...
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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